The benefits of Immunosuppressant (Antirejection) Drugs are clear - the medications reduce the strength of the body's immune system which lowers a Chronic Kidney Disease patient's ability to fight against and reject a transplanted kidney. However, Immunosuppressant Drugs can cause side effects in some Kidney Transplant patients. The side effects of immunosuppressants include trembling, nausea, headaches, weakened bones, puffy face, high blood pressure, acne, tremors, swelling and tingling of the hands and feet, hair loss, mood swings, increased appetite, weight gain, and cancer. Yet, findings published in the American Journal of Transplantation "suggest that Calcineurin Inhibitors (CNI) [Immunosuppressant Drug] minimization results in better clinical outcomes than standard-dose CNI regimens."
In more detail, a University of Pennsylvania (Perelman School of Medicine) study suggested that "Reducing [the] dose of certain immunosuppressants may improve kidney transplant outcomes," reported Nephrology News. The study focused specifically on Calcineurin Inhibitors (CNI) which are Antirejection Drugs such as Prograf, Protopic, Hecoria, Neoral, Sandimmune, and Restasis, that directly inhibits T-cells (a type of white blood cell that is of key importance to the immune system and is at the core of adaptive immunity).
“A big question in the field is whether there is a benefit to prescribing an alternative CNI dose, or even an entirely different Immunosuppressant regimen for Kidney Recipients,” said Dr. Deirdre Sawinski. After evaluating eighty-eight (88) patients, researchers concluded that, in fact, "CNI minimization (using a lower-than-standard CNI dosage) results in better clinical outcomes than standard-dose (currently prescribed amounts) CNI regimens." Hence, many Kidney Transplant Recipients might benefit from a lower-than-standard dose of CNI, according to the University of Pennsylvania research findings.
While completely stopping the use of Calcineurin Inhibitors was explored it was not found to be beneficial for patients. Still, reducing the prescribed amount of CNI may possibly assist a patient's kidney function, and perhaps even lower the risk of serious complications such as cancer which is a growing concern in the Chronic Kidney Disease Community. Still, discuss this option with your Healthcare Team and never limit your medication under any circumstances unless your Transplant Team directs you to do so.
All Kidney Transplant patients should inform their doctors if they observe any of the major side effects associated with immunosuppressants. Kidney Transplantation often makes patients more susceptible to develop infections and they may be worse than normal, so patients should also report any signs of infection to doctors.
Please do not forget to like the KidneyBuzz.com Facebook Fan Page (over 37,000 likes). This event reminds us that we are all in this together. Leave a comment and connect with other patients. Your voice is important (click here). Also, join the over 1.2 million individual visitors over the past 12 months and stop by KidneyBuzz.com for the latest breaking news and information which teaches those with Chronic Kidney Disease, Dialysis, Kidney Transplant, Diabetes, and High Blood Pressure how to better manage and improve their lives.